One of the most popular ports of call for cruise vacations in the Mexican Riviera is the tip of the Baja Peninsula. This is a strip of land 775 miles long that separates the Gulf of California (or Sea of Cortez) from the Pacific Ocean. And, at the very southern tip is our destination – Cabo San Lucas – one of the sunniest regions on the planet.
This area is comprised of mountains, semi-flat terrain and coastal areas. Each of these landforms affects the characteristics of what you will see during your visit to the beaches. Hint: You will find much more than sand!
While there are dozens of named playas (or beaches) in Cabo, here are our favorites for a variety of fun activities, stunning scenic landscapes and memorable adventures.
Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach)
Take a water taxi to one of Cabo’s most famous spots – Lover’s Beach. It is located quite close to the iconic Land’s End rock formations. And, the ride out to this beach (accessible only by water) offers great photo opportunities. You may also want to take a glass-bottom boat tour for a look at the underwater sea life in this area.
Once on shore you can sense why the early explorers thought this was the “end of the land.” To this day, there are few facilities or vendors at this point where the Pacific Ocean mixes with the Mar de Cortés (Sea of Cortez). Due to its location, the ocean has strong currents and tides. However, swimming on the bay side at this beach is safe.
Also, the blue waters and sunsets make for a relaxing evening at Lover’s Beach. Insider tip: Depending on the season, there may be biting insects – so bring some bug spray along.
Playa del Divorcio (Divorce Beach)
Located just a short walk from Lover’s Beach is this stretch of shore ironically called Divorce Beach. (We will leave it to the reader to theorize about the meaning, if any, for these names!) This gorgeous spot is reached via a water taxi to Lover’s Beach.
It is a clean white shoreline on the Pacific Ocean – perfect for sunbathing. This secluded beach is framed by the dramatic rocks of Land’s End and offers hidden spots to explore.
However, all the local information says to “stay out of the water” at Divorce Beach. There are dangerously strong rip tides, currents and powerful waves that are unsuitable for swimming or wading. Additionally, there are no lifeguards or services here. The perfect spot to just relax safely upon the sand. (Same tip about the possibility of annoying flies – bring the bug spray.)
Playa El Médano (The Dune Beach)
Join the fun at what is considered the epicenter of social life in Cabo San Lucas, Playa El Médano – translated as The Dune Beach. This strip of sand is two-miles long and packed with all manner of eateries, bars, shops and places to rent water sports equipment.
It is also packed with people for most of the year (particularly during holiday seasons). Due in large part to its proximity to town and the large numbers of tourists, Medano Beach also draws local vendors.
They busily compete for your business with their various offerings of jewelry, blankets and other trendy items. So, while it is a fun place to play, it is not necessarily the spot for some peace and quiet.
The water is calm and snorkeling is a popular activity here. The sand is stacked with beach chairs and umbrellas for relaxing. There are designated swimming areas; jet skis to ride; paddleboards to paddle; kayaks to explore in; and, parasailing to fly above the land and sea. You can also book a water taxi at this beach to reach some of the other Cabo San Lucas beaches.
Playa Solmar (Solmar Beach)
Stretch your legs with a stroll on the postcard-perfect shoreline of Solmar Beach. This strip of land on the Pacific Ocean is the location of many private resorts. However, like other Cabo San Lucas beaches, this destination is (by law) open and accessible to the public.
One nice benefit of a walk on this lovely beach is the lack of vendors. While not always a detriment, salespeople can sometimes keep you from relaxing. So, take the family or your special someone for a quiet, leisurely afternoon between the cliffs and the sea.
Time your cruise with whale migrations and see them swimming by from the shore. But, do not under any circumstance go into the water at Solmar Beach. Rogue waves and rip currents make the ocean quite dangerous here. This is an “enjoy-the-view” destination. In particular, the sunsets over the water make this one of the best oceanside spots.
Acapulquito (Old Man’s Beach)
Learn to surf at Acapulquito – or Old Man’s Beach. The lay of the land coming into shore makes for nice, long rides on the surfboard. Sign up for a class at the surf school where locals also come for instructions on how to ride the waves. Also, find ample rental equipment if you are ready to get in the water. Summer season has bigger waves; and, in winter they are smaller.
You can also enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this location on the bay. Then, grab a bite to eat at some renowned seafood restaurants close by the beach. And, take a tour of one of the gems of the region – the colonial town of San José del Cabo. This destination is rich with authentic culture, architecture and history. Also, there are art galleries and nature reserves to visit while in this area.
Playa Costa Azul (Blue Coast Beach)
If your cruise schedule includes a port of call at Cabo in early summer, come to the Blue Coast Beach to see why it is the “capital of the summer surf scene.” Usually held in June, the World Surf League holds their competitions at this beach. And, surfers from around the globe come for the water, food and fun.
One reason that this is THE surfing location is an expert-level, right-hand reef break that creates some awesome waves during powerful swells. It is aptly named Zippers! For the surfers, it is said that Zippers “maintains its size all the way down the line.” Another challenging break is called La Roca – the rock – which breaks 350 feet from shore and travels inland quickly.
Find plenty of traditional beach services like chair and umbrella rentals, snorkeling gear and eateries. The beach restaurants here are also known for delicious burgers and barbeque ribs. The locals eat here – always an indication of really good food.
Playa Palmilla (Palmilla Beach)
Plan a day of fun at Palmilla Beach, the perfect spot to bring the whole family. Sitting beside luxury homes, this mile-long stretch of wide beach is located on the Sea. The protected cove shoreline is shaped like a crescent; and, the waters at this destination are calm, blue and safe. It is considered one of the best swimming beaches in the area.
It is far enough from the cities to leave some of the crowds (and vendors) behind. And, it is a designated Blue Flag beach. This distinction recognizes high levels of sanitation, ease of access and educational programs.
Bring snacks and drinks for a rest under one of the many palapas. Watch for whales swimming by during migration times. Or, try your luck with a bit of surf fishing. It is said that the best place to cast is near the rocky area at the south part of the beach.
Playa Las Viudas (Widow’s Beach)
If you are searching for a primitive and secluded spot amongst the many Cabo San Lucas beaches… you have found it! What used to be named Twin Dolphin Beach is now called Playa Las Viudas, or Widow’s Beach. The features at this Mar de Cortés location are a bit otherworldly – in a good way.
It is a combination of sand and volcanic rock formations that appear to have been sculpted by ancient visionaries. (The latter makes it a popular destination for photographers.) If you would like some privacy, there are many nooks and crannies in which to relax and enjoy the scenery. You can also do some shell hunting. And, go in search of sea creatures living in the many tide pools found amongst the rocks.
No services here. So, prepare accordingly.
Playa Santa María (Santa Maria Beach)
Travel eight miles northeast along the Sea of Cortez to reach our next destination – Santa Maria Beach. If parties are not your thing, then this is the spot for you! Nestled by shoulders of rock cliffs, the pink-tinted sand slopes gently to the azure waters. The wide beach is gathered into a horseshoe shape at this picturesque location.
And, the superlatives do not stop there. The waters at Santa Maria Beach are part of a protected marine sanctuary. This private cove is geographically protected and is, therefore, teaming with sea life. The best news – you can swim along and amongst many species.
Take a snorkeling tour to learn the names of your new discoveries. Swim with the family in the calm waters. Or, book a scuba diving experience in this colorful underwater world. Bring your own snacks, drinks and sunscreen (there is no shade at this secluded beach).
Playa El Tule
Take a trip to this Cabo San Lucas beach and feel like a local. Located beside the road, it is a wide stretch of beach just sitting beside the ocean. It is a mile-and-a-half long and (although it does not feel like it) it is in the Tourist Corridor. The latter is the 20-mile section of land along the Sea (Gulf of California) where many hotels, attractions and amenities are found.
Playa El Tule is considered secluded (even though you can hear the highway) and is popular for camping and surfing. The waves are created by a strong break that “goes both ways.” So, it is good for advanced surfers. The shoreline is dotted with rocks and boulders that create an environment for driftwood hunting and tide pools.
Nearby the family can enjoy some heart-pumping attractions at Wild Canyon Adventures. There is a zip line course, bungee jumping, camel rides, hanging bridges, an animal park and more. And, within a ten-minute drive, you can find upscale restaurants, fresh seafood eateries, traditional Mexican cuisine and Asian-inspired foods.
Playa el Faro Viejo (Old Lighthouse Beach)
A port of call along the sea might mean you get to visit a quintessential structure so crucial to navigation throughout human history – the lighthouse. The one located at the Cabo San Lucas beach named Playa el Faro Viejo (or Old Lighthouse Beach) is the oldest standing structure in the city.
Designed by a native of Madrid, Spain, the lighthouse was built in the late 19th Century. It has undergone recent renovations so that visitors can see, feel and hear the ocean from this important location. With some planning, you can make a reservation for a guided tour here. Hikes are generally offered in the mornings and follow along the Quivira Nature Trails.
The tours last about an hour and visitors get to see the unique landscapes beside and amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Listen to the geology and geography calling at the aptly named Monuments Beach. Located at the southwestern end of the Tourist Corridor, the small beach is a gorgeous mix of sand and rocks. And, off in the distance are stunning views of El Arco. These iconic rocky structures jut from the sea – carved by time and tides.
The lay of the land (as a left-hand point break) make this a popular destination for surfers. However, experience is strongly suggested since the area is rich with hazards for those unfamiliar with riding the waves. For the rest of us, the crashing waters and skilled surfers are fun to watch.
Stay for the sunset at Monuments Beach since this is one of the top reasons that resorts have recently built properties here. It is one of the best spots for photos as the sun dips below the horizon.